Solomon Jewett: Early Jewish Pioneer and Civic Citizen of Bakersfield, California

Solomon Jewett

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Solomon Jewett

Solomon Jewett

Solomon Jewett was born 1835 on his family’s sheep ranch in Vermont.

Along the way . . .

In 1861, Solomon Jewett and his brother, Philo D. Jewett, traveled to Colorado to mine gold.


Kern County

Shortly afterwards, Solomon Jewett walked to California, where he was hired to manage the sheep flocks of Colonel James Vineyard at the Tejon Ranch, north of Los Angeles.

A few years later, he established the Rio Bravo Ranch, bordering the Kern River near Bakersfield – backed by Thomas Bull, a San Francisco banker.

During the Civil War, Jewett supplied wool for the Union Army.

He also opened a store in Bakersfield at 19th Street and Chester.

During the 1870’s, Jewett discovered oil on his land and started an asphalt and paving company. His company was the first one to pave a Bakersfield street.

In 1874, Solomon Jewett opened the Kern County Bank, the first bank in Kern County.

Solomon Jewett's Kern County Bank, 1970's

Solomon Jewett’s Kern County Bank, 1870’s

In 1899, Jewett focused on raising and selling sheep, cattle, and alfalfa.


In 1866, Jewett served on Kern County’s first Grand Jury.

In 1872, he was elected County Supervisor of District No. 2.



Solomon Jewett helped organize the Kern Lodge #202, Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Bakersfield in 1872.

In 1879, he was overseer of the Ancient Order of United Workman.

He was also a member of both the Elks and Masons.



Solomon Jewett married Emma Caroline.

Together, they had two children: Philo and Lida.


Solomon Jewett died in 1905.

He is buried in the Union Cemetery, in Bakersfield.

Solomon Jewett's Gravestone

Solomon Jewett’s gravestone


  • Shirley Ann Newman, We Brought Sinai to San Joaquin, The Story of the Jews of Kern County (Bakersfield: Temple Beth El, 1998).
  • Annie R. Mitchell, “Pioneer Merchants of Tulare County, California,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 2/3.
  • “Jewish Businessmen of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern Counties,” from Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare & Kern, California (1891), Western Sates Jewish History 34/4.

Regina Merwin is curator of this Solomon Jewett exhibit.